02.15.06

Diving Vs. The Two-Footed Tackle

Posted in Football, Sports Journalism at 2:35 am by

The Times has identified the Jurgen Klinsman/Greg Louganis art of diving as a threat to football’s credibilty. The paper’s own Martin Samuel, however, submits that such a campaign “is like becoming more outraged with Abu Hamza™s welfare claims than the content of his speeches, to paint it as the root of all sporting evil misses the point by a hundred miles.”

To elevate simulation above all forms of cheating ” particularly those that throw in brutality and the threat of serious injury as part of the package ” gives it greater credence than is deserved.

Witness the quick capsule review of Arsenal™s match against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, published in Monday™s Times and written as if diving were the sole deadly sin. œUgly, like a Peter Kay belly-flop. Players from both sides went to ground too easily.

Notice anything missing? For two potentially leg-breaking tackles, see halfway down page six, dismissed in half a sentence, the culprits not even named or shamed.

Perception is key here and probably the reason that some forms of cheating anger more than others. Diving is regarded as particularly objectionable because it involves a calculated deception and a cold pact with dishonesty. Also, it is unmanly. We like our sportsmen to stand tall, to test the limits of endurance, to take a punch and come back for more. To see one rolling around on the ground like a three-year-old denied the cereal with the good toy is an affront to that image.

By contrast, the breakneck, break-leg tackler is perceived as part of this country™s work-hard, play-hard tradition. Only in England does a crunching challenge, fair or foul, get a previously subdued crowd animated in the manner of a swashbuckling forward move in the Nou Camp. High on the list of England™s World Cup heroes? Nobby Stiles (above), a negative midfield enforcer. As for Ron œChopper Harris and Norman œBites Your Legs Hunter, they are still recalled affectionately as loveable rogues but not by many who played against them. There is a long history of unchecked brutality in English football.

2 Responses to “Diving Vs. The Two-Footed Tackle”

  1. WisdomWeasel says:

    Ahhh, it takes me back to Vinnie Jones’ video of evil tackles and how he believed that Gary Lineker would be crap “in the the trenches”.

    I can’t shake the suspicion that as valid as Samuel’s points are, he’s the kind of bloke who never watched football before Channel Four decided to show Serie A, who owns a Toffs vintage Juventus shirt, and who chooses to ignore the vicious negativity of Italian defenders. I have no evidence for this but when has that ever stopped anyone disparaging sports writers?

    Final old git theory: football shares a direct linegage with rugby, gaelic football, and all the other oval ball codes. Therefore the knacker cracking tackle is as much a part of the tradition as is hip swervy silky goal scoring. There is a long history of unchecked brutality in English football. Quite. That’s the point. Everything else- skills, ball juggling, samba flair and so on- has been grafted on from hacky sack.

    Sincerely,
    Colonel Weasel Buffton-Tuffton (rtd)
    Nostalgia Acres, Frome.

  2. GC says:

    i think it is kind of amazing after decades of foreign imports and no shortage of serie a / la liga action all over the idiot box, smash (the shins) and grab (the shirt) defending is so commonplace, and not just in the lower divisions, either. I won’t tell you the latter makes for bad TV, either

    of course, that isn’t the only characteristic that sets the English game apart. “negativity” of Italian defenders is right ; though some diplomatically call that “tactical sophistication”

    also, no one ever died of balti pie poisoning in Italy.

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